Levin Gets Gates To Scale Back Iraq Reconstruction Cash
Defense Secretary Bob Gates wanted $590 million for Iraqi reconstruction projects in the forthcoming Iraq-war supplemental bill. Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), who chairs the armed services committee, asked if Gates was out of his mind. Today Gates said he’d reduce the request by $171 million. From Levin’s yay-me press release:
“After U.S. taxpayers have paid at least $27 billion for Iraq’s reconstruction — while Iraq has tens of billions of dollars in accounts all over the world from profits from skyrocketing oil prices – it is unacceptable that U.S. taxpayers continue to bear a burden that the Iraqi government can and should assume,” Levin said. “At the same time administration officials, including President Bush, continually tell the American people that Iraq is taking greater responsibility for reconstruction funding, it is unconscionable that they are sending notices to Congress saying that U.S. funding for these activities is increasing.
“I am pleased that Secretary Gates has personally reviewed this reallocation and decided to reduce the funding in light of the concerns I raised about it,” Levin said. “However, U.S. taxpayers continue to spend far too much on Iraqi reconstruction, particularly given the huge sums sitting in Iraqi government bank accounts.”
Levin indicated he would continue to pursue the issue of Iraq using its own funds to pay for construction and infrastructure projects in the upcoming Iraq Supplemental Appropriations Bill as well as the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009.